Month Forty-Five

Cat

Dear Husband,

I told myself previously that when I wrote these letters, I wanted to focus on things that were about you and me. That is, I didn’t want to only have things to say about us as parents as though we don’t have anything else between us other than the Genibean…and the puppy. I have to say however, that I have noticed a trend where you like to share the pain of parenting, perhaps a little unnecessarily.

Now maybe I am being unfair or assigning too much credit for the gestures I feel I am making but when the little miss decides to have a meltdown at 4am, I go into her room and pull the door to whilst I try and calm her down and hopefully get her to sleep. I figure that you need to get up and go to work each day so I try to make it as painless for you as I can. Which I will admit is occasionally not very. Sure, the walls are thin and you can still hear her screaming but I figure that at least I can stop the sound from reverberating around your skull. When you decide to take over however, you have a slightly different approach.

You leave her door wide open to maximize the amount of sound that can be heard in our bedroom. Either that, or you pick her up and bring her into our room to pace with her at the foot of the bed. You talk over her cries with a constant “it’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok” that I unfortunately find quite irritating or occasionally you put on music in the nursery at a much louder volume than I would consider conducive to falling asleep. You also sound like you are trying to engage her in conversation at times and I remember looking at the video on the baby monitor one night and thinking “what the hell are you doing!?!”. I was a little tired.

Now I am quite prepared to acknowledge that I am not a parenting expert. Just because I prefer some approaches or methods does not mean they are better than any others. I don’t necessarily believe things are “right” or “wrong” either and I have seen that different things work for different people. So I try not to criticise your parenting style. I try not to weigh in unless you ask me for my opinion. I make an effort not to interfere in the relationship that you have with your daughter. Believe it or not. On the other hand, how that relationship pertains to me is another matter.

When you are trying to do something nice for me such as attempting to settle her, being in the same room as me is not helpful. Taking a turn so that I can “get some rest” only works when the decibels to which I am exposed are reduced noticeably. And just for future reference, when I am worn out and exhausted, telling me what I cannot or should not be doing is not one of your most endearing traits. When she wakes after two hours for the first time at 4am and I decline to indulge her with a feed lest it become a habit, you coming into her room to inform me that I can’t just cut her off in the middle of the night does not make the situation any easier. I only want to snap back with “you just watch me” or “yes, I bloody well can” which I’m sure would just add more tension to the situation.

So there have been a couple of rough nights this month and both of us have felt a little tender from time to time. It usually hits me like a tonne of bricks around 10 at night, when you have just wound down from your day. For you sometimes it seems that first thing in the morning up until lunch is your don’t-talk-to-me-I’m-having-a-crap-day time. So we’re not exactly in sync on this one. I wish I knew how to make it better for you. You have told me that you are starting to miss things that you would normally not let slip. Due to exhaustion, some things are sliding when they should be sticking. This is not good. We will have to work on that one. I’d say we are obviously going through a period of adjustment at the moment but I have a feeling that this period might actually go on for another 20 years or so…

And that is what came to mind when I sat down to write. That’s not because it’s the only thing that happened this last month but rather that the interrupted sleep has been taking its toll on both of us. Baby brain has ensured that the easiest things for me to remember are how many times she woke last night or whether she is delivering dirty diapers. Remembering what I did yesterday is more of a challenge. Remembering what I did last week is nigh on impossible. Even if it was unusual. And the last four weeks did hold some of the unusual.

Week21

During this last month, my dad came up to spend a couple of days holding the Genibean so I could get housework done. His presence also meant however that you and I could go out together. Just the two of us. We haven’t done that since January when we went to see Rodrigo y Gabriela. We didn’t go very far and we didn’t do anything flash or fancy but it was nice to be sans enfant for a while, however brief. Last month also saw the kidlet and I come to visit you at work. At both of your jobs actually. Quite often you will come home for lunch from your weekday job but it was kind of nice for us to bring lunch to you on a couple of occasions. Hopefully your work didn’t mind because clearly, you can be very distracted by your daughter.

work

Then there was the day this last month that I’m sure you would sooner forget. You know, the one where you were paying slightly more attention to the wii fit than the wee one. The one where she rolled off the couch. Everything turned out fine though and she was none the worse for wear. I couldn’t quite say the same for you as I think you managed to shave a few years off your life there and then but we are all ok. And that’s something we can be thankful for, that after all these months, we’re still all ok. Hopefully that also holds for the next couple of months as we both look to balance developments with careers and family. Whatever happens, we’ll figure it out together.

Earnestly yours,

Your Loving Wife

* Main photo taken of the resident cat at one of the wineries we visited for your birthday. The other photos are obviously you at “work”.

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Week 21

Week21-3

Dear Genevieve,

Apparently your Mama is so much old news. Boring, passé, of little entertainment value and certainly of not much use apart from that of nourishment. At least, that is the conclusion that I have reached, because when we are together, this is the Genevieve that I usually see:

Week21-2

Whenever your dad shows up however, it’s a slightly different story. There are smiles…Grins even.

Week21-4

And occasionally there is laughter too!

I don’t normally get that. I don’t hold it against you, though. You have had a tough week. You have been experiencing a bit of tough love in regards to nap-time and bedtime. We have been trying to teach you to self-settle (or perhaps that was allowing you to figure it out for yourself), and so there have been times when you have been left to cry it out. We do try and put you down in your cot when you are calm, but more often than not, you immediately pitch a fit. You are not comforted by our presence, our voices or our touch, and short of actually getting you up, we haven’t found any option other than leaving you to screech for 20-30 minutes (after which point you usually fall into an exhausted slumber).

You can complain about us in therapy when you get older, if you want. We are just trying to do what we think is best. And that includes us getting sleep as well. Whilst I have been prepared to allow the 12am, 3am and 6am feeds you thought you wanted at times this week, when you started waking after 2 hours, I was finding it difficult. Several people have again suggested that we call Tresillian or Karitane to put you through sleep school (which I’m sure would come as a ruder shock), but I think we are going to muddle it out on our own. At least, for a little while longer.

Week21-6

So other than your inconvenient ability to stay awake for really long periods of time, this week, you have started to play coy. I might be holding you over my shoulder and you will be looking around, but when your dad comes up to make silly faces at you, you turn your head away or bury it in my shoulder. It’s kind of cute. When you are not burying your head in my shoulder however, you may well be trying to bring your legs towards your body. I am assuming this is because your little body is still having difficulties processing solid food and you really need to poop. I hate to see you struggling and I wish that I knew how to make this a non-issue for you but perhaps this is just part of your body developing and getting used to all the things you will do to it in the future.

Week21-5Sometimes you don’t seem to be doing so well but we’re trying our hardest to keep you healthy and happy. Although there are some times that are harder than others. Especially when we’re trying to figure things out.

Alles Liebe,

Lexelah

Week 20

Week20-2

Dear Genevieve,

I think you’re doing your tricky thing again. You know, the one where we’ve decided we’re going to try a new strategy as parents and so you behave beautifully to lull us into a false sense of security. You give us the idea that, hey, we could really do this, before you totally turn the tables and crack it big time. Since you were way overtired this morning, we decided that you should sleep a bit more regularly and be able to self settle so we started employing Tresillian type methods on you. There are a bunch of guidelines regarding the actual parental settling but by the end of the day, you were calm when we wanted to put you down so we were just placing you in your cot and walking straight out.

The first time I did this, you did actually cry for a solid half hour afterwards. I kept waiting for it to escalate beyond the whinge though and it never did. It just remained the kind of cry that I imagine is the equivalent of a five year old saying I’m hungry! for thirty minutes following dinner, seconds and dessert. The kind of complaining that most parents respond to with no you’re not so stop whining – I’m not interested. So I left you and you went to sleep all by yourself. Unswaddled and arms free to boot. Then you woke about three hours later, I fed you, changed you and gave you to your dad who had a quick cuddle before putting you down and walking out. You had another quick whine but then went straight back to sleep! That’s totally not going to happen tomorrow is it?

Week20-4

At the end of the day though, I guess I’m really not that fazed. I mean it’d be great if you had a routine that was a bit more predictable and it was easier to put you down to sleep but I’m not obsessed with making you conform to a schedule. Every child is different. Some babies can’t really manage to stay awake for more than about three hours. You on the other hand can stay awake for the better part of twelve. Like on Saturday. Sure, you slept in your pram for a short spell here and a short spell there and you slept in the car for about the same but I’d be surprised if you racked up more than two hours in total during that time. You were fighting sleep at every turn. You didn’t want to miss anything.

Week20-3

So the self settling was a new thing for this week, as was the food. You are now on solids! Your pediatrician advised that we could try you on solid food once you reached four months so we started to feed you rice cereal. And you seem to be really enjoying it. When you’re not constipated that is. Although you weren’t really constipated until after the third time we fed you. The first couple of times, I prepared your cereal and made up a half serve. Everything I had read said start with a couple of teaspoons because should be enough. Your dad went straight to the two tablespoon serve however, which seemed to clog things up a bit. Then he told me we should have started on fruit or vegetables first. Like he is the expert. In my defense though, we make up the rice cereal with breast milk so I though that might be a slightly familiar taste and therefore a good transition.

Week20

For something different though, we tried you on some apple today. I have heard that when you stew it, you remove some of the fibre benefit however so we gave you water as well. You were definitely not keen on the water (you take after your mother there) and you weren’t that impressed when I syringed it into your mouth either. You seemed to really like the apple though so we’re doing ok so far on this eating thing. I would have to say that your tongue is occasionally a little more hindrance than help at this stage but I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it. Maybe its just that your feeding has been a little all over the place this week.

I did expect that you would not need quite as much breast milk once we supplemented your diet with solid food however it seemed as though you fed a lot less. There was one day where you had a 7 hour period and a 5 hour period between feeds which in turn made me slightly paranoid for about 24 hours afterwards. Perhaps because this happened along side me feeling like I didn’t have enough milk for you when you did feed. And because it seems that my milk no longer makes you drowsy. I knew it would happen but I didn’t know when. It would seem that now is the time. It remains a comfort to you and I can still feed you to sleep but only if you’re already really tired. Bugger c’est la vie.

Week20-5

The last thing that I wanted to mention for this week is that we were really proud of how well you did on your next lot of immunisations. You and I both had a visit with the doctor on Monday. Me because I woke up with strong chest pains (so much so that your dad took you to work with him for about an hour because it hurt for me to lift you) and you because you needed two further injections. One after the other this time. You did cry but you were a lot better than last time.

Alles Liebe,

Lexelah

Shades Of Grey

less-than-50-shades-of-greyDear Husband,

In case you were wondering, this letter has nothing to do with 50 Shades of Grey. I’ll just put that out there now. It is however about communication between men and women, or perhaps just you and me.

Apparently, I see the world in shades of grey and you see…orange. We discovered this the other day when I made reference to the grey backpack and you had no idea what I was talking about. So I clarified my statement by mentioning it was the Kathmandu backpack. The one we have occasionally put the dog things in when we travel…To which you replied that we don’t have a grey backpack. We only have an orange one. This one.

grey

Now I am prepared to concede that this backpack is not completely grey. But in my opinion it is certainly no more orange than this tennis ball is white!

Tennis-ball-007I freely admit that our backpack is in fact grey and orange. But come on, it has a grey back, it has grey straps and it has grey on the front. It is in fact undeniably more grey than orange. See…

grey-2

So it appears that I see some things in shades of grey and now I have a Billy Joel song running through my head:

Shades of grey wherever I go
The more I find out the less that I know
There ain’t no rainbow shining on me
Shades of grey are the colors I see

It does seem somewhat applicable to you and me…I do think however that I should be forgiven for calling the backpack grey. I’m just saying.

Colourfully yours,

Your Loving Wife

Week 19

Week19-2

Dear Genevieve,

This was a funny old week. One where things changed yet again but at the same time there was a bit of learning to see the order through the chaos. At the beginning of the week, you were being what I had started to consider as your nuggety self. There was frequent feeding and lots of grizzling, I assume due to the new teeth.  It was largely just you and me on Monday and Tuesday (with Sparky working at both jobs) and these days seemed a continuation of the week before. Then Grumps came.

Week19-3

Since I haven’t had the luxury of using both my hands for a while and the household tasks on my to-do list were piling up, I asked your grandfather if he would like to come up for a few days. Not so he could do my work for me (I’m not that rude) but so he could play with you whilst I did the work. I probably didn’t take as much advantage of that as I should have because I only seemed to conquer the most basic cleaning and washing but I did get a good head start on the study. Anyway, I was always on hand to feed you but when you weren’t sleeping or eating, I pretty much handed you over.

Fortunately my father is a patient man. Screaming babies don’t phase him and so he’d walk with you, hum to you and cuddle you when you were upset. He’d take you outside for a change of scene when you wouldn’t settle or bring you inside when you’d had enough of the outdoors. He would also play with you when you were happy. But that was not exactly the majority of the time. There were several occasions when he came up to me and said I’ve broken her again. The thing I realised though was that whilst your crying doesn’t exactly send me into a tailspin of paranoia and guilt, I am possibly too quick sometimes to give you the boob. I wonder if I have been helping to create a situation that I was hoping to avoid.

Week19-5

Grumps would allow you to work out your tantrums. He’d let you whinge to your heart’s content and cry as much as you wanted. If you were honestly distressed I would take you back of course and there were a couple of those times to be sure, but more often than not, I’d be gearing up to have to stop what I was doing and then you’d calm down all by yourself. And all of a sudden your feeds spread out and you would nap, sometimes more than once. You stopped waking every three hours at night (you could manage 4 or 4 1/2) and you seemed happier over all. We certainly had some of the best runs of smiles when I brought the camera out for the daily photo.

Week19-4

Now don’t get me wrong. There were still periods when nothing seemed to work. You wouldn’t eat (or you’d bite), you wouldn’t sleep and you wouldn’t stop grizzling. We’d give you Bonjella, the Brauer teething stuff and Infant’s Friend and we’d go through every trick we could think of to settle you. We’d take turns to see if a new face would help but sometimes we just had to wait it out until you  exhausted yourself into slumber. By the end of the week however, getting you to go to sleep didn’t seem to be such a mammoth task. Or maybe it was that I was more relaxed because despite all the washing, cleaning and tidying I accomplished, I felt as though I’d had a break. And I really enjoyed spending a little more time with my dad. I hope that when you grow up, you can enjoy a similar relationship with your dad because I think it’s pretty cool.

Week19

There was of course also the not so cool part of the week where you showed your dad just how fast you could roll and took a dive off the couch. He could definitely have done without that. It was not by any means the high point of the week but you seem to have come off completely unscathed by the incident so we’re thankful for that.

Alles Liebe,

Lexelah

Falling For You

Week19.1

Dear Genevieve,

Little girl, you scared the bejeezus out of Sparky last night! I’m sure you were just trying to show him how clever you were. Or maybe you were just bored and wanted to experiment. Whichever it was, you swapped your slow roll for a fast one…right off the couch! You were fine but your father was definitely not ok. Frightened and distressed were words I could use to describe him and not you. I think you did scare yourself a little though because taking a tumble off the couch was not what you expected but you seemed to get over that quick smart.

I didn’t see your effort to relocate yourself but I gather your dad grabbed you right before you hit the carpet. You had a stretchy swaddle thing on however so he didn’t so much catch you as slow your descent. You therefore did sustain a slight knock to the head but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that hard because you perked up shortly thereafter. We did the responsible thing though and rang the community nurse to ask for advice.

The nurse filled out an incident report and did an initial assessment over the phone. After asking for our details and why we were calling, she asked us a whole host of questions. Did you throw up? No. We’re there any broken bones? Pretty sure no. Could we see any lumps or swelling? No. Did you pass out or have a seizure? No. Was there any bleeding or other fluids oozing from your orifices? No. Did you cry straight away? Yes. Did you seem able to concentrate still? Yes. Did you seem normal? Yes. From that, the nurse advised that if we weren’t concerned, it sounded as though we could save the trip to emergency but we should keep you under close observation for  2 hours and check on you frequently over the next 24.

Then she asked us what we would have done if we hadn’t called the community health nurse. Now apparently this is a question that they ask everyone (which I found out today) so its probably meant to be something along the lines of we’d like to understand the level of education out there or we’d like to know how our service fits into the community. At the time however, it came across a little more like I can’t believe you didn’t think you should go straight to emergency, were you just going to hope for the best? It was considered that you were probably fine though and so now we’ll do our best to make sure you’re not able to do a repeat performance.

The other thing that came out of the incident was that we had a real reason to use the movement sensors on your swanky monitor. Before now, we had not bothered to turn them on because they set off an alarm whenever we pick you up before deactivating them (which is really easy to do at 3am). After we put you down to sleep however, I think your dad wanted to watch the movement sensor for a while to make sure you weren’t going to have some sudden seizure and stop breathing. You’re still here today though and you seem perfectly healthy. I’m sure that once you’re crawling and walking you’ll do worse by yourself anyway. But babies are a resilient lot. If you don’t mind though, try not to freak your dad out again for a while.

Alles Liebe,

Lexelah

Week 18

Week 18-3

Dear Genevieve,

Teeth! We have teeth! Two of them. We thought they might have been upon us last week but now we can definitely see your two front bottom teeth and I’m guessing from your additional toadiness, that you can definitely feel them as well. It must be somewhat of an ache because you’re not shrieking in pain per se but you have been generally more unsettled. You cry and grizzle more than you did before and don’t seem to be comforted when we actively try and settle you. So we needed some reinforcements.

Week 18

Since you obviously have a strong aversion to children’s Panadol, I sent your dad out to buy an alternate pain killer for you. Being your dad of course, instead of only buying Neurofen or Dymadon, he bought both. Just like when I sent him out to get some Bonjella. He did buy the gel but he also came back with a Brauer teething mix as well. Which makes me think we’re kind of covered for the teething pain relief. As far as medication goes. I’m afraid we can’t stop it hurting in the first place though and we can’t always distract you either. We have tried to give you some teething rings but you’re not really interested in holding onto anything. You know, unless it’s like my boob or my neck or your dads mouth…

You could have a successful career in pinching ahead of you if you were interested. You’ve yet to master the thumb and index finger pinch of course. You don’t quite have the motor skills for that one yet but you are fantastic at taking of a handful of us and squeezing hard. With your sharp nails dug in for added benefit. I’m not sure which is worse, you biting me while I’m feeding you or you pinching me. Both hurt like the blazes. And I’m pretty sure the biting can get a lot worse. They certainly don’t make feeding fun. Which I feel like I’m doing all the flipping time now. Every 90 minutes to three hours it seems. They say that this is a sign you are ready for solids. Apparently breastmilk does not continue to sustain you to the same degree. We might wait until you get over your cold first before I attempt solids with you.

Week 18-5

At the end of last week, you got a cold that continued into this week. You remained congested and your coughing fits got a little worse. They didn’t get to the barking cough of croup or the wheeze of whooping cough (and I sincerely hope that they don’t) but you would have coughing fits in the middle of feeding or just after I put you down to sleep. I’m hoping you get over this soon though because we don’t like to see you ill. We also want to be able to take you to Neighbourette’s house again. With her having a newborn at home and the health in their household already being compromised however we have both imposed a sort of quarantine. At least in regards to our two families.

Week 18-4

We did have guests with a little boy one month older than you over on Monday. There was full disclosure about you having been sick though. But they were still happy to come so you had a bigger audience for your new trick. After the OT showed you how to roll over last Monday, you didn’t see any reason to repeat the phenomenon over the following days. No, you wanted to sit on that knowledge for a week. Ponder it, internalize it and consider it until the following Monday, this Monday, when it became your new favorite pastime. Any time we put you on your back now, in pretty short order you end up on your front. When I wake up to feed you in the wee small hours of the morning I sometimes find you on your stomach as well. You’re not so big on flipping back over although your dad assures me that he’s seen it but you’ve been having a lot of self imposed tummy time this week.

Week 18-2

Alles Liebe,

Lexelah